Should You Be Boarding Your Houseplants While Out Of Town?

It can be a challenge to keep your plants alive when you're away from home. You'll need to find ways to keep them hydrated, move them into the shade, and maybe even change the indoor temperature. Just like you would with your furry friends, boarding your houseplants during this time can be a good idea to ensure your plants get the care they need when you're away. Whether you should board your houseplants will depend on the amount of time you're away as well as the specific needs and conditions of your plants. 

There are plant boarding homes as well as businesses out there that offer the service. According to a CBS news report on YouTube, one plant nursery in Virginia mainly receives orchids that have finished blooming because people want to see if they bloom again instead of throwing them out. Brookside Orchids is a California nursery that accepts orchids and companion plants. They take care of the "watering, fertilizing, repotting, dividing as necessary, and pest control" and can receive orchids at any time of the year as long as they're not in bloom. Always check for stipulations like these because they play a big role in determining if you can board your plants or not.

What to know about boarding your houseplants

Some houseplants are resilient and can withstand neglect for a while, so if you'll only be away for a short time, they can hang in there if you water them generously before leaving. If you'll be out of town long enough for your plants to need care, or your plants need daily attention, consider boarding your houseplants, but note that nurseries typically have rules for acceptance. Your ability to board with them will largely depend on your plants meeting their criteria. 

One requirement you might come across is that the plants should be healthy and free of pests. This means their services are only to maintain your plant as it is, not restore or revive it. A place might also reject plants that are too delicate to reduce the chances of your plant not surviving the boarding period. This is because the moving process can be stressful on any plant and it is a risk when you give your plants to be stored.

Informal plant boarding and alternatives

For longer time frames and with plants that aren't eligible for boarding, you can try an informal service. Plant lovers who turn their own homes into boarding centers may be open about working with you on your needs. You can also ask a friend, neighbor, or family member to plant sit or get a house or pet sitter and include plant care in their tasks. This will be easier and less risky than boarding because they don't have to leave the environment they're used to. It also ensures personalized care because you'll be able to lay out care instructions, give tips in detail, and check in freely while you're away.

Another option to consider is integrating an automatic watering system. You can set a timer on a sprinkler for plants that can be kept outside, or DIY greenhouses and automatic drip systems for those that have to stay indoors. These are great ways to water and keep the soil moist, but they can be less dependable the longer you're away. They also don't address other needs like fertilization or pest control, so they would be more efficient when combined with a sitter.